Depression And Seasonal Affective Disorder

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Introduction Mental health and optimal functioning are, of course, very important in any discussion of public health. Depression and more specifically Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can happen to anyone, and it is important to be treated when experiencing health problems like these. While I have never experienced seasonal depression, its temporal nature and the treatment of the disorder interest me. I researched SAD when I considered studying it as a topic for my undergraduate senior thesis. During the thesis preparation process, I looked at articles about SAD and its common used treatment of light therapy. I recently revisited one of those articles (Rossman, 2010), and the article piqued my interest in writing about how light therapy …show more content…

This effect is quicker than the time it takes for antidepressant drugs to begin working. In a study involving eleven adult participants between the ages of 26-39 who were diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, light therapy produced a reduction of 5-HTT BPND (serotonin transporter binding) in the anterior cingulate and prefrontal cortices (which play a role in negative emotions and the recall of positive events, respectively) (Tyrer et al., 2016). More specifically, the researchers concluded that light therapy produces an effect on the retina and dorsal raphe nucleus, as well as in connections through the suprachiasmatic nucleus and hypothalamic dorsomedial nucleus to the median raphe nuclei that potentially decrease 5-HTT levels globally across the brain. This treatment effect significantly helped with participants’ SAD symptoms, and it points to a tangible and clinically effective result in the brain from light therapy treatment. In another study involving twelve adult participants between the ages of 18-59 who had a diagnosis of Seasonal Affective Disorder, light therapy was found to help correct the natural melatonin secretion cycle (Rice, Mayor, Tucker, & Bielski, 1995). Melatonin is a hormone secreted at nighttime by the pineal gland, and plays a role in human sleep and wake cycles by aiding the process of sleep.

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